As healthcare professionals, we educate about hygiene at work (wash your hands, put your hair up, glove and gown…etc). But what about when you get home from work? Post shift hygiene isn’t directly discussed in nursing school or even during work orientation. With the lack of education on this topic, there is a wide variance of how people perform their own post shift hygiene. Some people are over the top careful (i.e. burning their clothes if anything suspicious touches it) to others being careless (i.e. flopping on their beds with their work shoes and scrubs still on)! Yes, I witnessed and personally know both types of people! But where is the happy middle ground? Let’s walk through my routine of how I perform post shift hygiene:
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Clean Your Stethoscope and Gear
After the end of my shift, I do a thorough wipe down of my favorite stethoscope and gear like my penlight, scissors, hemostats, etc. (You can check out my favorite stethoscope and nursing gear here). Even though I wipe down between every patient, I like to do a final wipe down of my things before I pack them up in my bag or stuff them in my locker. I use these MRSA killing wipes, which do the job and are not too harsh on my gear! It’s just one more way I help to minimize the risk of spreading infections like C-diff or MRSA into my personal space.
Wipe Down Your Shoes
Do you know how many times I’ve seen feces, urine, or “what the heck is that” on the floor? Chances are you probably stepped in something spooky at some point that day. When I’m done for the day, I do a wipe down of my shoes with these MRSA killing wipes. If your shoes are mesh on top, sometimes you can’t always wipe that part down, but at least do the bottoms of your shoes! I’ve invested a lot of research and money in my nursing shoes and want to take good care of them. (You can see my top pick of nursing shoes here)! You don’t want to track anything home with you.
Clean Your Phone
It’s one of those things that you wouldn’t necessarily think about. I use my phone for everything and use it everywhere… but after pulling your phone out multiple times a shift, it wouldn’t hurt to do a quick wipe down of the phone before you leave. Typically, I use an alcohol wipe or MRSA killing wipes that are gentle on your phone. They also have a UV sanitizer for phones that I have been eyeing!
Wash Your Hands Before Leaving Work
Hopefully, you’ve been washing your hands all day, but please do one final hand wash with soap and water before you step out the door. As we all know, hand hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection. Please continue to do so!
Don’t Go Shopping in Your Scrubs
I always see people in the grocery store wearing their work scrubs and it just gives me the creeps. Knowing the kind of place I work, why would i want to expose the rest of the world to what is on my scrubs?! If you really have to run errands after work, at least change into different clothes.
Leave Your Shoes at the Door
Again, remember where you have been walking! Even if you did take the time to do a thorough wipe down of your shoes, take some extra precaution to leave your shoes at the door. I like to have a designated spot for my favorite nursing shoes, whether that be a specific place on your shoe rack or in the garage. Don’t walk around your house with those shoes!
Strip at the Door
It’s the same idea with leaving your shoes at the door. When you get home, take your scrubs off and put them in the laundry. Please don’t wear them around the house, and PLEASE don’t flop on your bed after work! Yes, I know people who do this! Just think about this, anywhere and anything you touch with your scrubs is potentially introducing all of your work journeys to your home.
Wash Your Scrubs Properly
I cannot emphasize this enough: Wash your scrubs properly! I love my scrubs and want them to last for as long as possible! (You can check out my top pick of scrubs here)! In order to make them last a bit longer and stay cleaner, I always wash my scrubs separate from my other clothes. Some washers and dryers have a “disinfectant mode,” which I sometimes use. Otherwise, you can use pine oil and phenolic disinfectants to help clean and destroy any diseases that may be lingering on your scrubs. Chlorine bleach is also a great option if you have white scrubs. Because of the price and convenience, I get my laundry detergents like chlorine bleach and laundry sanitizers on Amazon. If washing those new scrubs are intimidating, you can always refer to the scrubs’ washing instructions and recommendations.
Shower Immediately After Getting Home
I always joke about how hot my shower needs to be depending on the type of exposure to diseases and infections I have that day at work. Alongside the same idea with hand hygiene, use soap in the shower! I do a full body scrub and wash my hair after every shift. Sometimes I wish there were such a thing as an autoclave for your body, but a hot soapy shower is the next best thing.
Personally, I Err on the Side of Caution
Now, some people think my post shift hygiene is unnecessary or a bit excessive. I always get the same excuses from my coworkers. “It’s too much of a hassle!” “But there are diseases anywhere you go, not just the hospital.” “I was careful at work and didn’t have any patients with infections.” But let me tell you this: with all the known infections that are concentrated in the hospital, why wouldn’t you take extra precaution to protect yourself and your family from exposure that could be prevented by performing basic post shift hygiene? For me, I choose to err on the side of caution in order to protect myself, family, and my home.
What other ways do you clean up after work, or do you think that our list of post shift hygiene is a little excessive? We want to hear from you! Let us know what you do after work in the comments below!
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